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Book Release - The Widow Of Vrindavan By Kusum Ansal

Naina Sharma

The Widow of Vrindavan
by Kusum Ansal (translated by Masooma Ali). Harper Collins, New Delhi. Rs 295. Pages 260.

Nehru Centre, London and Katha (UK) organized a function jointly on 19th August to launch The Widow of Vrindavan, a novel by Kusum Ansal, a noted novelist and short story writer of Hindi and Punjabi from New Delhi. Pavan K. Verma, the Director of Nehru Centre, London, while launching the novel, congratulated Kusum Ansal for writing a novel on such a bold subject. He said that it is a matter of regret that misery is perpetrated upon those who are helpless and weak. Those very people and institutions, which are supposed to look after these widows, are responsible for their exploitation. This is a very old and chronic problem and the government as well as the society will have to pay attention to this evil.

Mr. Anil Sharma, Hindi and Culture Officer of the High Commission of India, in his written paper said, "In this novel Kusum Ansal has presented such an atmosphere in which weak, resource less widows and divorcees are exploited in a very cruel manner. And all this is done on the pretext of religion. The silent suffering of these widows reminds us that every age requires its own Raja Ram Mohan Rai. Kusum Ansal's writing has in it description, deep thought, philosophy and sensitivity. Kusum Ansal shows faith in religion but her pen has venom against those who are busy exploiting people in the name of religion.

Noted writer and the General Secretary of Katha (UK) Tejendra Sharma, while moderating the program, made pithy comments and observations about the novel. According to him Kusum Ansal through this novel has raised some pertinent questions about the existence of God - “After all why does God want to listen to his name all the time?" The novel depicts the rottenness present outside as well as inside our pilgrimage centers; physical, mental and economic exploitation of widows and a nexus between the organizers of widow ashrams, police and the underworld. The language of the novel is poetic in nature and Kusum Ansal's research work is quite visible.

The Chair Dr. Gautam Sachdev opined that The Widow of Vrindavan is a tragic depiction of the religious hypocrisy and the curse of diseased exploitation which is drenched in tears. One can not only visually watch the hell created by the servants of God on God's own land but also feel the spiteful selfishness which pretends to become one's friend and does not hesitate to kill.

Kusum Ansal recalled the efforts while going through her research work at Vrindavan and the resistance she had to face while gathering her material. Those in-charge of the ashrams, hated her and the exploited widows were too afraid to talk to her, she said.

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